Vascular rejection post heart transplantation is associated with positive flow cytometric cross-matching

James F. McCarthy, Daniel J. Cook*, Malek G. Massad, Y. Sano, Kiaran J. O'Malley, Norman R. Ratliff, Robert W. Stewart, Nicholas G. Smedira, Randal C. Starling, James B. Young, Patrick M. McCarthy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective: Use of flow cytometry cross-matching for measurement of donor-specific alloreactivity and monitoring anti-donor antibodies is well established. This study was performed to determine (1) its accuracy as a marker of vascular rejection, (2) its correlation with posttransplant outcome and (3) its ability to monitor highly sensitized patients requiring antibody removal with plasma exchange. Methods: Serial serum samples from 99 heart transplant recipients were examined for the presence of anti-donor antibodies of the IgG class that were reactive with T and/or B cryopreserved donor lymphocytes. A sub-group of 20 HLA sensitized patients required plasma exchange to remove the anti-HLA antibodies and were monitored with flow cytometry cross-matching to assess the degree of antibody removal. Results: Positive T-cell reactions were observed in 26 patients and positive B-cell reactions in 54. Twenty patients had vascular rejection. A significantly larger number of patients with a positive flow cytometry cross-match had vascular rejection (42% versus 12% for T-cell reactions, and 32% versus 7% for B-cell reactions; P = 0.002 each). Of the patients who had vascular rejection, 11 had a positive T-cell reaction (flow cytometry cross-match sensitivity of 55%), and 17 had a positive B-cell reaction (sensitivity of 85%). Of the 79 patients who did not develop vascular rejection, 64 had a negative T-cell reaction (specificity of 81%), and 42 had a negative B-cell reaction (specificity of 53%). The actuarial 2-year survival estimates were significantly higher in patients with negative T-cell reactions (90% versus 75%; P = 0.04), and B-cell reactions (95% versus 78%; P = 0.02). In the highly sensitized subgroup (n = 20) the effectiveness of plasma exchange to decrease anti-HLA antibody reactivity was a strong predictor of outcome. For patients in whom plasma exchange (PE) reduced anti-donor reactivity, 1-year survival was 87% compared to 25% in those whom PE did not reduce the level of antibody binding as assessed with flow cytometry cross-matching (P < 0.0001). Conclusions: Flow cytometry cross-matching provides a valuable marker for the detection of vascular rejection after cardiac transplantation. Quantitative measurements may allow evaluation of the efficacy of treatment modalities employed in the management or vascular rejection in an attempt to improve outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-200
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1998


  • Cardiac transplant
  • Flow cytometry cross-match
  • Vascular rejection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Vascular rejection post heart transplantation is associated with positive flow cytometric cross-matching'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this